Eye-trackers are expensive. The devices, which measure eye motion, can be used to study what attracts a viewer’s gaze on, say, a company website. (They’re also used to assist the disabled.) They can help your business figure out whether a design is user-friendly or confusing, and show what visitors find most appealing. Until recently though, the technology wasn’t worth the benefits, as it could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 a pair. But all that’s changed now thanks to new cost-effective hardware and software. Here’s how your business can take advantage.
Due to such developments as the $50-DIY-EyeWriter, this technology is now more inexpensive and accessible than ever. Recent startup GazeHawk, for example, has developed a new system that’ll give your company all the benefits of eye-tracking with none of the costs. For just $50 per tester, GazeHawk hires participants to interact with your website, and then tracks where their eyes are drawn to most. The results are impressive: a full-color heat map that provides great feedback on your site’s design through high-quality visualizations.
Here are two from a test of Fast Company. As you can see, the first tester was heavily seduced by the beautiful splashing milk image (we didn’t call it “eye candy” for nothing), and then scrolled down the page, stopping at the occasional item of interest. (Click here for the full visual.)
What’s interesting is that the tester seems drawn to the bright, colorful images rather than our text headlines, which reaffirms how important visuals are for visitors. (Predictably, a fiery-red spot hovers above an iPad pictured–you can see that in the full screen capture.)
The second user (full version here), clearly a Lady Gaga fan, was drawn to the top banner of our Most Creative People list, or perhaps our comparison of crime fighting and Minority Report. According to GazeHawk’s analysis, the user almost immediately clicked into these stories. Unfortunately, this is also the weakest part of the study, as the participant feedback proves the testers are not quite experts (or literate): “Why Have I not seen this page or article be for I think it would make good reading.” Insightful.
Still, Gazehawk’s technology has much potential for businesses, and the low, one-time cost is well worth it. (The more testers added, the better the results, of course.) For us, the study is not so much a test of our design, but of which stories are most appealing to readers. However, compared to conventional click-maps, which tracks where users click on a page, GazeHawk’s technology is far more informative: